Last time out I previewed the teams that would be competing in the 2015 Formula 1 season. This time around I’m taking a look at the drivers.

Lewis Hamilton

Team – Mercedes

Last year’s position – 1st

As reigning champion Lewis Hamilton will head in 2015 no doubt confident – something buoyed by once again having what appears to be the best car by a country mile – and he demonstrated on several occasions last year that he could out-race teammate and closest challenger Nico Rosberg on the track. The question is whether he will remain as focused and driven this year – a recent split from his long-term partner Nicole Scherzinger might play on his mind – and Lewis does have previous form for letting off-track matters interfere with his racing (see his diasterous 2011 season). Rosberg will be his closest challenger on the track once again – but perhaps the only person who can stop Hamilton is Hamilton himself.

I have a feeling that he will not let that happen though. He is in sight of replicating the achievement of his idol, Ayrton Senna, and he won’t let that slip.

Prediction: 1st

Nico Rosberg

Team: Mercedes

Last year’s position – 2nd

Despite winning only five races to Hamilton’s 11 last year, Nico Rosberg kept himself firmly in title contention right throughout the year with consistent performances and good management of his car, finishing on the podium in every race he finished bar one. He is arguably the Prost to Hamilton’s Senna – a thinker, a strategist, and if he can add some punch to that, he will mount a supreme challenge to Hamilton. However, he needs to beat Hamilton on the track, in a straight fight, more often than he did last year, to gain any sort of psychological edge. I suspect it will be close, but I think Hamilton will want it more.

Prediction: 2nd

Daniel Ricciardo

Team: Red Bull

Last year’s position: 3rd

2014 was a landmark year for the young Australian Ricciardo. Paired with then-reignng world champion and team favourite Sebastian Vettel, no one would have believed that he would finish ahead of Vettel in 11 of the races they both completed (14 races in total). Ricciardo was the only non-Mercedes man to win any races (three) and his aggressive, bold overtakes were both crowd-pleasing and a sign that he was prepared to fight for points. It’s unclear as to how good the new Red Bull is and whether it is competitive, but if it is remotely as strong as last year, Ricciardo could get more podiums and even the odd win.

Prediction: 4th

Daniil Kyvat

Team: Red Bull

Last year’s position: 15th

Promoted quite suddenly from junior team Toro Rosso, Kyvat will have a chance to make a serious statement on his future if he can put in good performances in a car that will be looking for podiums and even the odd win. His main aim though, and biggest chance to make a point, will be to beat Ricciardo consistently. Ricciardo has the extra year at Red Bull and therefore experience of fighting for serious points, and Kyvat was beaten in the standings by his teammate Jean-Eric Vergne last season, so his promotion is something of a surprise, and I expect Ricciardo to beat him.

Prediction: 6th

Felipe Massa

Team: Williams

Last year’s position: 7th

Experienced hand Massa is entering his 13th season in Formula 1 and after a miserable time at Ferrari as Alonso’s teammate, he underwent something of a transformation in 2014 at Williams, scoring three podium finishes and helping Williams to third in the constructor’s championship. He could yet add to his career win tally if the conditions are right – Williams are seen as the best of the rest behind Mercedes and if there’s a mistake from Hamilton or Rosberg, he could put himself in a winning position. It won’t be easy, as Mercedes look reliable, but so do Williams, and Massa has regained some of his old spark.

Prediction: 5th

Valtteri Bottas

Team: Williams

Last year’s position: 4th

With six podiums to his name in 2014, Bottas scored points in every race he finished except one, and has laid down a serious marker as a future champion. A series of strong performances have helped to paint him as a good driver and hard competitor – and I suspect he will finish ahead of Massa again in the standings. The Williams is shaping up to be a good car and I also suspect Bottas will beat the Red Bulls more often than he doesn’t.

Prediction: 3rd

Sebastian Vettel

Team: Ferrari

Last year’s position: 5th

Vettel’s move to Ferrari was, if he is to be believed, motivated by a desire for a fresh start and a new challenge – well, he will certainly have that, with Ferrari not expected to make significant waves in 2015. The team is recovering from a poor 2014, that saw them fail to record a single win, with Fernando Alonso getting the only two podium finishes the team could manage.

Vettel is also looking to bounce back after a 2014 in which he was overshadowed by his new teammate Ricciardo – beaten far more often than not, Vettel did not get to grips with new regulations that altered the handling of the cars, and came unstuck. He already has doubters as to his true ability, despite winning four consecutive world championships, and last year did nothing to dispel those doubters. 2015 must therefore be the year he proves himself, outside of his comfort zone, with a car that, whilst much improved over last year, is not regarded as a serious contender.

I dare say we will see Vettel’s true colours and I think he will do reasonably well, but I can’t see him winning.

Prediction: 7th

Kimi Raikkonen

Team: Ferrari

Last year’s position: 12th

Although the iceman finished every race bar one in 2014, Raikkonen was never particularly happy with the car and finished no higher than 4th all season. The 2007 champion was comfortably outperformed by Alonso and he is once again partnered by a multiple world champion. Easily quick in the right circumstances, Raikkonen will nevertheless need the car to be adjusted to suit his style, rather than the other way around, if he is to be remotely successful in 2015. He has already spoken favourably of the new car, so perhaps he will enjoy a better season.

Prediction: 10th

Fernando Alonso

Team: McLaren

Last year’s position: 6th

There is an old saying about never going back. Well, Alonso, who raced for McLaren in 2007 (not exactly a happy experience for him) has done exactly that, returning to take part in the new partnership between McLaren and Honda.

Testing has not gone well for both team and driver – Alonso was injured in somewhat mysterious circumstances during the final test, resulting in a three-day hospital stay despite what were apparently only minor concerns about concussion, and he will miss the first race of the season as well. He might be glad that he did – it seems unlikely McLaren will even complete the race, given their issues in testing!

Given Alonso’s status as arguably the most talented driver on the grid, it seems unfortunate that he has not had a good car for a number of years, and with what is shaping up to be an unreliable one this year, I do not predict much joy for him.

Prediction: 8th

Jenson Button

Team: McLaren

Last year’s position: 8th

Toward the end of 2014 there was much debate around who would be Alonso’s teammate for 2015 – newcomer Kevin Magussen, or experienced 2009 champion Button. For a time it seemed that Magussen would get the nod, despite being comfortably outperformed by Button throughout the season, but in the end McLaren resigned Button (requiring him to take a pay cut mind) for 2015, giving the team one of the most experienced line-ups on the grid.

As mentioned above, the car is proving to be unreliable and this will sadly hamper Button’s hopes. The eternally optimistic Button has expressed some positive thoughts about the new car, but he will lose too much ground at the start of the year.

Prediction: 9th

Romain Grosjean

Team: Lotus

Last year’s position: 14th

Grosjean’s F1 career has been peculiar so far. 2012 brought glimpses of pace but also a lot of erratic performances (including a ban-earning collision at Spa that wiped out Hamilton, Alonso and Perez at the first corner). 2013 was better but 2014 was a backwards step for Grosjean – down to the car this time though – and he endured a miserable season, finishing no higher than 8th and not scoring any points after the Monaco Grand Prix.

With the new car apparently full of promise (and with a much better engine) it seems that things might be better for him this year.

Prediction: 11th

Pastor Maldonado

Team: Lotus

Last year’s position: 16th

Maldonado’s critics would argue he is only in F1 because he brings good sponsorship money, and after three years spent having contributed to a number of incidents/accidents, it’s a label he is finding hard to shake. He was not helped last year by a poorly designed car, but this year he needs to recapture the ability that saw him actually take a win in 2012 – and lose the crash-happy performances. The car is better, so he will have no excuses. Ideally, another year of crashing off every other race would kill his career – but the income he brings might just save him, if he can provide a few good, points-scoring finishes.

Prediction: 15th

Nico Hulkenberg

Team: Force India

Last year’s position: 9th

Having given a good account of himself throughout his career so far, Hulkenberg was pretty consistent last year, finishing 5th several times, and he helped Force India push McLaren quite hard. Arriving late to testing has seemingly hurt his team’s chances of repeating the strong performances of last year, but he might just do well in the second half of the year.

Prediction: 12th

Sergio Perez

Team: Force India

Last year’s position: 10th

Perez has had a decidedly up-and-down experience in F1 so far. Some fine performances and some bold overtaking have been tempered by what some would argue is overly aggressive racing, leading to crashes and retirements on several occasions. He has gained some unlikely podiums and also failed to score any points from positions where he might be expected to get a few.

This will be his fifth year in F1 and it is time for Perez to deliver. He was beaten by his teammate Hulkenberg last season, and now Perez needs to pick his game up and push on. He has the ability, and now he has some experience under his belt, hopefully he will put in a good shift. Lack of testing for the Force India will potentially hamper him, but at the very least he should be scrapping for the low-points scoring places.

Prediction: 14th

Max Verstappen

Team: Toro Rosso

Last year’s position: N/A

The first of our newcomers to Formula 1, Verstappen (the son of former Benetton driver Jos Verstappen) will become the youngest ever F1 driver when he makes his proper debut in Australia. At just 17, some have questioned the wisdom of giving such a young man a drive (indeed, the FIA have since amended the terms and conditions needed to get a superlicence), but the view of his team is that he has bags of ability and will surprise people. It’s entirely possible, but I can’t help but feel a lack of experience with the cars and opponents will not help him reach that potential in his first year, despite having a reasonable car.

Prediction: 16th

Carlos Sainz Jr

Team: Toro Rosso

Last year’s position: N/A

Another debutant, Sainz Jr is another youngster at just twenty years of age. He has a little more experience in other forms of racing, which I feel will serve him in good stead versus Verstappen, but as before, a lack of experience will see 2015 be a learning year, rather than a revolutionary one, for the Spaniard.

Prediction: 15th

Marcus Ericsson

Team: Sauber

Last year’s position: 19th

Driving for the now defunct Caterham team last year, Ericsson was never going to challenge seriously for points – his best finish was a pretty good 11th at Monaco – but he has done enough – either through performances or sponsorship, or both – to get himself a drive for Sauber in 2015. I don’t think we should expect too much from Sauber and therefore not too much from Ericsson.

Prediction: 18th

Felipe Nasr

Team: Sauber

Last year’s position: N/A

Another new driver for 2015, Nasr is someone who has grown increasingly competitive in GP2, making a name for himself, enough so as (along with bringing good sponsor money) to earn an F1 drive, albeit not with an especially great team. Whilst his teammate Ericsson has the edge in F1 experience, it’s only by one season, and I have a sneaky suspicion that Nasr will be quicker than Ericsson.

Prediction: 17th

Giedo van der Garde

Team: Sauber

Last year’s position: N/A

Yes, I listed three drivers for a two-racer team. At the time of writing this, Garde has just successfully won a court fight with Sauber forcing them to honour a contract he has with them to drive for them in 2015. It remains to be seen which of the other two drivers will lose their seat, assuming that Sauber don’t simply choose to ignore the ruling and stick to their guns. I would honestly be surprised if Garde does start in Australia, but the whole affair has been damaging for the Sauber team, who are not in the best position financially and certainly don’t need court proceedings being dragged out against them. If Garde does race, I imagine he will not beat Nasr (despite having raced for Caterham in 2013).

Prediction (if he races): 18th

Will Stevens

Team: Manor-Marussia

Last year’s position: N/A

I have to be upfront and say I know nothing of Stevens, save for him making one appearance last year, at the final race, for Caterham. He is in what will almost certainly be the slowest car on the grid and I don’t think we should expect anything sensational from him.

Prediction: 19th

Roberto Merhi

Team: Manor-Marussia

Last year’s position: N/A

Another guy I know nothing about, and I have to echo my comments above – I don’t think we can expect to see anything special from Merhi, given the car.

Prediction: 20th

 

So there you have it! My lowdown on the 2015 season. I’ve made my predictions, I’ll stick to them, and it will be fascinating to see if I get any of this right, come the final race!

Back to F1 2015

After a long winter (not aided by some shaky performances on the football pitch from Liverpool), Formula 1 is finally set to return! On 13th March, practice begins for the opening round in Melbourne, Australia, with the race itself taking place on the 15th. I cannot wait!

So, what are the expectations?

Mercedes

MercedesW06

The Mercedes W06 is an evolution of last year’s dominant car (which would win all but three of 19 races), refining the nose as per the new rules and working on further tightening the rear of the car. Once again the engine is the class of the field, so once again expectations are high that Mercedes will be hard to beat.

In testing the W06 was put through its paces and completed hundreds of laps without too much trouble, demonstrating reliability at an early stage, as well as allowing Mercedes to gather a lot of data about the car. Toward the end of testing, it was also clear that the car is fast – around 0.7 seconds faster than the best times of their rivals. This would suggest a second season of Mercedes championships is very likely.

As with last season, Mercedes line up with Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg and the two will probably resume the title battle they had last year. Hamilton would win 11 races to Rosberg’s five in 2014, but Rosberg was consistent and will be very keen to get one over on his teammate, who has beaten Rosberg two times out of two in their time as teammates. Still, I imagine Hamilton will be fighting fit and determined to retain his title. Hamilton is my pre-season tip to win it in 2015.

Williams

WilliamsFW37

Jumping from 9th in the constructor’s championship in 2013 to 3rd in 2014 was a huge transformation for Williams, and they will be desperate to continue making forward progress. The FW37 has been good in testing, enjoying consistency and good pace, developing nicely, and with the same Mercedes power as the Mercedes team, they can expect a horsepower advantage over several other teams.

Bottas and Massa are once again the drivers and they bring a steady combination of experience (Massa) and talent (Bottas). We could well see Williams winning races this year, though of course, it will be a tricky prospect to beat Mercedes.

Red Bull

Motor Racing - Formula One Testing - Day 2 - Jerez, Spain

After winning four consecutive driver and constructor championships from 2010 to 2013, Red Bull were shunted down to second place in 2014, as the rules shifted away from their greatest strength – downforce – and toward engine power. The new RB11 boasts a Renault engine that is still 10% down on horsepower compared to Mercedes, but let’s not forget that Red Bull were the only team other than Mercedes to win any races last year – a mark of how good the design was, and with Adrian Newey’s design genius, even if he’s not at the centre of that process anymore, one would still expect a good car.

Red Bull’s golden child Sebastian Vettel left at the end of last year to join Ferrari, so Daniel Ricciardo (who took all three of Red Bull’s wins in 2014) is paired with Russian Daniil Kvyat, who is entering only his second year in F1 after debuting with Toro Rosso last year. There have been some raised eyebrows over the swift promotion of Kvyat to the ‘A’ team, but Ricciardo has proven himself to be competitive in the right circumstances against established talents, and I suspect Red Bull will have a decent car. As good as the more powerful Williams? We shall see.

Ferrari

After a disastrous year for Ferrari, which saw several high-profile sackings and the loss of arguably F1’s most talented driver to one of their biggest rivals, the SF15-T is the car that the team hope will begin a revival of fortunes, and with four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel joining them, Ferrari will also be hoping he can fill the hole left by Fernando Alonso.

Vettel arrives at Ferrari with something to prove – his detractors have long maintained his success over the past few years has been almost entirely down to the car, and that he will not be seen as a true great until he has won outside of his comfort zone. Well, Vettel took the leap from Red Bull to Ferrari knowing how much Ferrari had struggled in 2014, so kudos to him for being brave enough to do that.

The challenge now of course, will be to deliver results. Ferrari have worked hard over the winter, and the new car has already drawn favourable comments from Kimi Raikkonen, so it would seem they have moved in the right direction.

McLaren

McLarenMP430

Like Ferrari, McLaren did not enjoy a good 2014. Though they boasted the same engine as Mercedes, the chassis simply wasn’t up to scratch, and McLaren nearly lost out to Force India in the constructor’s champion (but for Jensen Button’s efforts in the final race), which should be a sign of how hard they fell.

For 2015 McLaren have partnered with some old friends. Their engine suppliers are Honda, who famously supplied McLaren with engines during their late-80s/early-90s spell of supremacy. The team have also gone to some lengths to streamline the rear of the car, as they seek to catch up to the aerodynamically strong designs of Mercedes and Red Bull.

Testing of the MP4-30 has not gone well. Whilst most other teams have been able to put together at least 50 or so laps at a time, the best McLaren have managed in any one stint is 36 laps. They have been hindered by engine problems, as well as other issues with the car, so it seems highly likely they will arrive in Melbourne with concerns they won’t even complete the race.

To top things off, new driver (and former driver, for that matter) Fernando Alonso wound up in hospital with concussion after a crash in testing, which means he will have even less experience with the new car come race day. For him and Button, the prospects of even a podium seem bleak.

Lotus

Motor Racing - Formula One Testing - Day 2 - Jerez, Spain

Another team to endure a difficult 2014, Lotus have switched from Renault engines to Mercedes power for 2015, with the feedback from drivers Pastor Maldonado and Romain Grosjean being quite positive. Signs are that the new car will be better to drive than the disappointing 2014 edition, which should serve Lotus in good stead. They were getting podiums and even winning races in 2012 and 2013 – it’s hard to imagine wins for them, but perhaps a podium?

Force India

ForceIndiaVJM08

Force India were the last team to unveil their new car and get to testing, something which normally would not bode well for their season, though by all accounts the line-up of Perez and Hulkenberg were quite pleased by the car, which completed over 200 laps in testing. Deputy Principal Bob Fernley expects the team to start the year quite slowly, but he believes the extra time spent developing the car will pay off later in the year. The relatively small team have turned into quite a strong midfield outfit since they arrived in F1 and it would be a shame to see them go backwards, but sometimes, you have to take a step back to take two steps forward. This seems to be the approach.

Toro Rosso

ToroRossoSTR10

Often seen as the Red Bull ‘B’ team, Toro Rosso have worked hard on their new car, completing over 400 laps over the final weekend of testing alone, so there is optimism that the team has done all they can do to be ready for 2015. The STR10 has been favourably regarded by the drivers, who also happen to represent a completely new line-up.

17 year-old Max Verstappen will become the youngest Formula 1 driver in history when he makes his racing debut in Australia, and he will be joined by 20 year-old Carlos Sainz Jr, who is coming from Formula Renault 3.5. Two young, inexperienced drivers is seen as risky, but the two acquitted themselves quite well in testing, so it would seem they can handle the job. Still, if they make mistakes that hamper other racers, they will not make many friends.

Sauber

F1 Testing Jerez de la Frontera, Spain 1 - 4 February 2015

2014 was a miserable year for Sauber. They failed to pick up a single point and will be hoping that an improved Ferrari engine will offer them better race pace this time around. Marcus Ericsson (formerly of Caterham) and Felipe Nasr (formerly of GP2) represent a completely new line-up for the team. It’s difficult to say if they will enjoy a radical improvement in 2015.

Marussia

MarussiaMR03

For the first time in their brief history Marussia scored points in 2014, thanks to Jules Bianchi’s 9th place in Monaco. Sadly, Bianchi remains seriously ill in hospital following his accident in Japan, and we continue to wish him all the best.

His team went into administration last year (along with Caterham), and very nearly folded completely, but they are now back, albeit with two new drivers (Will Stevens is replacing Max Chilton and a second driver is yet to be announced), and running a modified version of their 2014 car whilst they hastily prepare their new car. It would seem likely that they will bring up the rear of the pack once again.

Back to F1 2015

In the wake of the tragic loss of Leonard Nimoy, you would think that people would be focusing on the loss keenly felt by his fans, his colleagues, his friends and of course, his family.

Unfortunately, there are some parties out there that seem determined to use this occasion to troll and berate. Most notably, the Twitter account of New York Daily News is running a big, bold headline of ‘Captain Jerk’, as William Shatner – James T Kirk on Star Trek and a close friend of Leonard Nimoy – is unable to attend the funeral.

Shatner is attending a charity function to raise awareness of and money for the Red Cross. This has no doubt been prearranged and it is a worthy cause. I very much doubt Shatner has decided he doesn’t want to go to Nimoy’s funeral in favour of this event, but he has made a commitment and he is honouring that commitment, which is what I am sure Nimoy would have wanted.

The attitude of this ‘news’ site is despicable. If you are reading this and on Twitter, I urge you to voice your disgust.

SpockAs by now many of you reading this will know, today the world lost a beautiful soul. The mild-mannered, talented actor, director, poet and all-round wonderful man Leonard Nimoy has passed away, at the age of 83.

When Star Trek began, few could know what it would become. The show was made on a comparatively shoe-string budget and it would stretch and push at the envelope of social conventions, featuring stories that would challenge existing ideas about race, gender and politics. The fanbase grew and grew and became very passionate, loving the show and its ideas.

One character in particular captured the hearts and minds of fans worldwide – Spock. The half-human, half-Vulcan Mr Spock was a cool, calm, logical man, in complete control of his emotions and able to view every situation from a calm, factual viewpoint. It was tempting to think he might be a cold, even cruel character, but Spock had a warmth to him, a sense of dignity, and everyone would come to love him.

That is down to the brilliant performances of Leonard Nimoy. He breathed life into this character, developed him, and would portray him from 1966 all the way through to 2013, when he made his final, cameo appearance in Star Trek into Darkness.

LeonardNimoyLeonard Nimoy was always humble. He had such talent, and brought so much joy to so many people, yet he never let it go to his head. He worked hard throughout his career, always wanted to please the fans. He will be sorely missed.

NIMOYTRIBUTEMy wife and I have paid our own tribute here, raising a Federation glass to the great man. Rest in Peace Leonard.

 

image

So after a brief break it was back to the fray and back to China for round 3 of the 2010 season.

The first two races had gone very well – wins at circuits I hadn’t quite been able to quite win at before had given me confidence ahead of Shanghai. Last time around I could only manage 5th place, owing to some silly errors and hurting my tyres, despite qualifying on pole. This time, a few tweaks to the setup (aerodynamic changes for speed and gearbox changes for acceleration) yielded promising results in practice, though I could only manage 5th fastest in P1.

The same was true of Q1. 5th fastest and half a second off the best time wasn’t exactly where I wanted to be, but I was able to get through Q1 and Q2 to the final round and, with the race strategy set and a different fuel load for Q3, I was able to qualify in 2nd.

Webber was ahead of me, and at the start he not only stayed ahead but Ferrari’s Massa got ahead of me too. However as we began lap two I breezed past both of them into turn 1 and Would move on to win the race quite comfortably. I would lose the lead at every pit stop but as the cars ahead pitted I would regain the lead every time.

The track is filled with a number of weaving corners and pretty tight turns that are slower than they look. Turn 1 is a loooong right-hander and and whilst there are points where it can be hit quite fast, you do need to be firm with the brakes throughout.

Turns 6, 9 and 11 are also quite tight and require some pretty solid applications of the breaks, whilst turn 10 is actually quite fast, and turn 15 is a brutal hairpin followed up by a slightly tricky left-hander that can be quite quick, but only if you judge it right – otherwise you’re going for a spin!

So, 30 points from a possible 30. Button has had three second places so now he’s on 24 points. I hadn’t expected to lead the title race so comfortably at this stage. Here’s hoping I can keep this up!

As February slowly gives way to March (crawling slowly on its belly as it happens), I look back upon the first two months of the year with… well, I don’t think regret is the right word but it’s the only word that springs to mind.

The two jobs I was especially keen on landing both didn’t work out. Several other applications and interviews in that period didn’t work out either, which is quite frustrating.

I suppose what’s been frustrating me more than anything is that my current job has been getting quite stressful during this period. My manager, whom I have a lot of respect for, resigned in the middle of January and I can honestly say I don’t feel that head office have been overly supportive (and certainly haven’t moved their arses when it came to finding a replacement). This has of course led to extra work for me and my colleagues, and though we’ve had support from other stores, sickness has taken its toll on us as well.

Add on endless tasking from head office (they seem to forget we have actually have customers to tend to), and it’s getting on my nerves. There are endless collations, training exercises, pogs and promotions to do – on top of stock, and on top of reports. I thought we were supposed to be a customer-facing environment?

Still, on the horizon is firstly my wife’s birthday, followed by her going to see Spandau Ballet in concert! Next is a trip to Bristol for a gathering of the ‘clan’, for my mother’s birthday and also for other relatives’ birthdays. Following on from that, my brother’s birthday and a family trip to Great Yarmouth for a week! So, even if the job hunting isn’t proving to successful right now, at least there are prospects for R and R!

complaining

 

So a man comes into the store. He notices that we (regrettably) have 2014 calendars still out. Obviously, we shouldn’t have them out. It’s an unfortunate oversight. He tells me he’s taken a picture of them and will make head office aware.

Aware of what? That we’re human beings, trying our hardest to do our jobs, without nitpicky arseholes making it harder with their minuate approach to life? Piss off!

 

So, the second race of season 2 brings us back to Sepang, Malaysia – where I didn’t fare too well last time.

Sepang

My first run through here saw the race run in wet conditions and I struggled, ultimately putting the brake assist on in order to handle the circuit and conditions. This time around, I was determined to complete the race properly, even if it meant a bad race.

Practice in wet conditions saw me a second or so off the pace (quite a gap!) and really struggling for speed. Tweaks to the setup didn’t yield an especially good response so I had to be brave and push the aerodynamics for even better speed, at the expense of grip, in a wet qualifying. The first two sessions saw me scrape through to Q3, whereupon I managed to squeeze into pole! (I’m not sure how – the changes to the car must have been better than I expected).

The track is a pretty fast one but you cannot make too many concessions to speed here, as there are quite a few hard, tight corners that require good downforce. Turn 4 was an area in the wet where initially, I would slide wide, and turn 7, whilst reasonably quick, is not a corner you can hit flat out, or else you will bounce onto the grass.

Turn 9 is a monster of a left-hander and I didn’t like this corner the first time around. This time, I was approaching it with the benefit of experience, and thus it (and the deceptively quick turn 11) were not so bad.

The race itself was a lot better than last season (where I could only manage 5th). I slipped down to third to start with, but was back in the lead by the end of lap 1 and, aside from going back down to second after the first pit stops, remained in the lead for the entire race. Dry conditions undoubtedly helped me here – the track is a lot easier!

Once again I ran a three-stop race, and once again only one stint on the hard tyres. I think this is benefiting me considerably – Two wins out of two for the season gives me a four-point lead over Button already, whereas at this point before I was behind by at least six or seven points. Definitely a good turn around!

So it’s apparent to anyone reading this site that the main site hasn’t seen an update in a little while. This is not because I am not working on the site – I have plans in place – but rather because real life takes precedence and right now, there is a lot going on as far as that front is concerned.

I recently had an interview with a very prestigious company based in London, but unfortunately that particular set of interviews did not result in the job. I freely admit to feeling somewhat gutted by this – the job would have involved considerable travel, but it would have been worth it, of that I am certain.

Still, I have another option. I did not come at this with only one move. On Monday I will have another crack at a different job, but one that just so happens to be with the same company.

What with work itself being a hectic, stressful environment right now, and with interviews here and there, it is fair to say I have not had much time to devote to the site. I will post some updates as the year goes by, but honestly, at this point, I cannot say how frequently. Real life comes first, in all things.

MelbourneSo, having won the 2009 F1 championship with a final-race win at Abu Dhabi, after a short break it was time to return to action – to defend my title.

The game doesn’t generate any new tracks for 2010, nor does it reorder the races, so it was back to Australia for the 2010 race! The circuit, at Melbourne, was unchanged, and as such retained the brilliant fast elements that make the track a driver and fan favourite.

A season’s worth of experience allowed me to attack the track far more than I had the first time around. More aggression and less caution meant I handled previously tricky corners like the tight turn 3 and the equally tight turn 9 with greater confidence, braking a touch later and turning in a touch earlier. My entrance (and exit) into the pretty quick turn 1 was also smoother. I continued to approach the turn 13-14 sequence quite fast, before squeezing the brakes hard for turn 15.

Before I continue, I had remained with BMW Sauber (just wanted to point that out!).

Confession time. The first time I ran this race I restarted it after a collision with a backmarker who, for whatever reason, did not clear the racing line, leading me to hit the back of him, lose my front wheel and suffer a drive-through penalty. I was not amused, and put this down to an AI glitch. The cars are supposed to move off the racing line, rather than across it, right into my path!

In the practice sessions I was once again fastest, and this carried on into qualifying, where I would get a 13th career pole. At the very start of the race Jenson Button would pull ahead of me, but by the third corner I was back ahead, where I would stay until lap 8.

On lap 8 my rear-left tyre developed a puncture. Having already restarted the race once, I was reluctant to do so again, and so took a chance on pitting to see if the AI would in fact recognise the problem and fix it. For a change, my tyres were indeed changed – I lost the lead (and in fact slipped down to 10th), and would have to complete 20 laps on soft tyres, but I managed to make the tyres last as I gradually fought my way back up the field (aided by some of the guys in front pitting). On lap 28 I pitted again and would again lose the lead, but I would only drop to 3rd, and that would become 2nd quite quickly owing to more pit stops. I would catch and pass Button quite easily (he got bogged down in traffic), and by the time of my final pit stop I was able to retain the lead, and I would maintain my lead.

My first win of the season and ninth of my career was by some 16 seconds, an ultimately comfortable win despite the puncture, and sets me up nicely for the rest of the season. I did not fare too well in Malaysia last time, but this time, hopefully, will be different!